When Writers Block Becomes Writers Talk

From Steve Laube’s blog, used with permission:

I
came across an old post by Seth Godin where he wrote: 

No one ever gets talker’s block. No one wakes up in the
morning, discovers he has nothing to say and sits quietly, for days or weeks,
until the muse hits, until the moment is right, until all the craziness in his
life has died down.

What a liberating concept! It reminded me of a great
book by Joel Saltzman If You Can Talk, You Can Write.
Of course there are times where it feels like the well
is dry and that you have “nothing to say.” But that isn’t really true is it?
You can sit down with your spouse, your best friend, or your writers group and
talk about your lack of inspiration. It is in that expression where you can
find the spark of creativity.
The key, of course, is to write something. Anything.
Even if it is bad. Kevin J. Anderson suggests you should “dare to be bad and then fix it.”
Still don’t feel like you have anything to say?
Just imagine a topic and think of what you would say if asked the question
while sitting with a panel of experts. And then write your answer. [Today’s post came from imagining a panel discussion
about “writer’s block.”]
I have one client who held himself accountable by
pledging to pay two accountability partners $50 each, for every week he did not
hit his pre-determined and promised word count. That is motivation! He
only missed his deadline once. (I’m impressed that his friends took the money!
A sign of a true accountability partner.)
It would be interesting to hear what you do to get past
any sort of “blockage” in your writing life. Please post your thoughts below. 

Indie Publishing with Patty Smith Hall

When Ane asked me to write a column on indie publishing for Novel Rocket, my first thought was why me? At that time, I only had one self-published novella under my belt and even with that, I had tremendous amounts of help for some very savvy ladies who had more insights into this subject that I ever could. But then it hit me—while indie publishing isn’t anything new, more writers, both published and pre-pubbed, are moving into this exciting new arena.

Including myself. So who better to share what I learn as I jump into the fray of the indie industry?

But why chose to go indie rather than traditional? There are several reasons. For me, it was the opportunity to get my work in front of readers at a pace I felt more comfortable with. By the time my next book hits the shelves in January, it will be almost two years since my last book, twenty-four months in which my readers have had time to forget about me. That is, if I let them. So I decided to publish a couple of novellas and one full length novel on Amazon or Barnes and Noble in the meantime. One, because even if it doesn’t reach all my readers, it can reach a large majority of them and two, it helps me pick up new readers that might go back and buy my already published series.

There are other reasons too. Creative freedom, the entrepreneurial feeling of being in control of every aspect of your work from cradle to grave, setting your own deadlines and working within the scope of your ‘other’ life. There are probably a dozen other reasons, but like I said early, I’m relatively new at this so I’m still learning.

So what little piece of wisdom can I offer today in regards to indie publishing? What do I wished someone had told me before my first novella had come out? Here it is, folks:

Don’t push the send button too soon.

Just because you’ve typed ‘the end’ doesn’t mean you’re actually finished. Every manuscript that is on the shelves of your local bookstore has gone through the editing process, and so it should be the same with your self published works. This rush to publication was one of the reasons why indie publishing gets a bad rap, because some writers think they’ve created a masterpiece with their first draft when what they really need to do is step back, put some time and space between them and the project then look at it with fresh eyes. Or better yet, give it to a critique partner or beta reader who doesn’t back away from telling you the truth.

I recently went through this process with the first manuscript I ever wrote. It was a story I wrote during a time of great heartache and gave me so much joy at a time when joy was the last thing I was feeling. At the time, I thought it was fantastic; the writing had just flowed out of me at times so it had to be good, didn’t it? It made the rounds at a few publishing houses, even garnered a revision letter from one but no one offered me a contract. So I saved it to my hard drive and moved on. Earlier this year, I decided to dust off that old manuscript and self publish it, but when I did my first read though, I discovered something.

It was crap.

Not all of it, but it needed some re-writes before I could even think about publishing it. Now, think about that—what if I had self published that book all those years ago the second I finished it? How many one-starred reviews do you think it would have gotten? How many readers would have never picked up another one of my books after reading that hot mess? That is why, before you  even think about hitting the send button, you put it aside for a week or two, then look at it from a fresh perspective. If you can afford it, pay for a professional edit. Tape these words to the top of your computer screen so that you can see them any time you’re close to finishing a book.

Do. Not. Push. The. Send. Button. YET!

Until next time!

  
Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical and Heartsong.  She currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. She currently lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her next release, New Hope Sweethearts will be available in July on Amazon.

WORDS AND CHANGE

By Cynthia Ruchti

It wasn’t until the third or fourth complaint that I stopped myself mid-sentence. I’d whined about the list of tasks keeping me from what I really wanted to do. I’d whined about how difficult it was to pack lightly for a business trip that long, and in a climate that hot. I started to whine about how busy I’d be from morning until night with responsibilities, activities, and oppor– Opportu–

I couldn’t finish the word opportunities without heavy but welcome conviction settling on me, snuffing the fire of complaints, dousing remaining ashes to make sure the flames were most sincerely dead.

The night before, I’d lingered over some of my favorite passages in Jeremiah. Among the verses I’d highlighted were these from The Message:

“Use words truly and well. Don’t stoop to cheap whining. Then, but only then, you’ll speak for me,” Jeremiah 15:19 MSG.  

Cheap whining. Stooping to cheap whining. Getting rid of the whining served as a contingency of being allowed to speak on God’s behalf, to write on His behalf, to tell stories with His blessing?

I still stare at the yellow highlighted sentences as if seeing them for the first time, curious about what they mean, as if they aren’t among the simplest words in the English language. Words on words.

“Use words truly and well,” God said to the prophet Jeremiah, and through Jeremiah to us. “Only then, you’ll speak for me.”

Only then.

I’d complained about having too many items to fit into my luggage, too many events slotted in the upcoming days, too little time to relax, and a workload that others would have traded for theirs without blinking.

I invoked an instant moratorium on whining for the rest of the day. It lasted almost an hour before I caught myself about to complain that the printer was taking too long.

I can–and sometimes do–use my words to express my impatience, or to communicate unfairness against me or people I care about. How many words have I tossed toward the television screen when the plot of a drama has a gaping hole the writers failed to notice or when the closed captioning is full of spelling errors? How many words do I use untruly and unwell in comparison to God’s instructions to me?

This is one of those moments that can turn the course of a life. And not just mine.

“Then, but only then, you’ll speak for me,” God said. He added, “Let your words change them. Don’t change your words to suit them.”

The stories we write and the words in those stories have the potential to evoke change. But not if we stoop to cheap whining and waste words that could have been used instead to offer hope.

The NIV version expresses it this way: “If you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman,” Jeremiah 15:19. Is there an area of your conversations, your verbal or written communication, that can’t legitimately be called “worthy” words? A sobering thought, isn’t it?

In the Mood! by DiAnn Mills

In the Mood!
DiAnn Mills

A writer friend and I were catching up over a lengthy phone conversation. After we covered a multitude of topics, personal and business, I asked about the progress of her next book.

“Oh, I’m not writing,” she said. “Haven’t been in the mood.”

This writer was one of my heroes in the industry. “What happened? You’ve always been excited to delve into the next project.”

“Creativity hasn’t moved me to begin a new novel.”

“Do you need to brainstorm?” I said.

The writing muse hasn’t hit me.

“No. I’m good.” She sighed. “Dry spells come and go.” 
    
Her obscure tone bothered me, but I didn’t pursue the topic further. Later on in the day I was at the dentist’s office. I’d lost a filling, and the tooth throbbed. As I waited in the patient’s chair, I thought back over the conversation with my writer friend. A twinge of pain shot up from my tooth. How would I feel if the dentist wasn’t in the mood? Ouch!

I left the dentist’s office under the effects of Novocain and stopped to fill up my empty gas tank. When I reached for the pump and selected the type of fuel needed, the same thought struck me again. What if the driver who delivered gasoline to the station wasn’t in the mood? I’d be walking.

Before heading home to finish my word count for the day, I stopped at the grocery to buy salad fixings. While I stood in line to pay for my food, it occurred to me one more time. What if the grocer’s employees weren’t in the mood to work today? My husband wouldn’t have a grilled chicken salad for dinner.

The difference between my friend’s approach to writing and mine boiled down to work ethics. I write whether the words are framed in my mind, or I have to dig them up like precious stones. Everyday. No matter what my mood.
 
If I procrastinated to when I felt like creating, not only would the contracts stop but I believe the quality of the manuscript would slip. Other tasks fall under writing: responding to emails, social media, reading the how-to books, keeping up to date on the publishing industry, marketing and promotion, and arranging to attend quality conferences. Some areas are more enjoyable than others, but my work ethic says to complete the task to the best of my ability.

I received my work ethic model from my dad. I don’t remember his ever missing a day of work. He welded in a factory, rain or shine, in sickness and in health, whether he felt like it or not. 

What about you?
 

That’s my advice to every writer. Put your rear in gear and get the job done. Write, edit, submit, promote, and begin again. The satisfaction of a well-crafted piece is worth the disillusion of waiting to create when in the mood. In the midst of discovering the perfect idea or word is a wealth of satisfaction of a job well done.
    
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.